British blues-rock legend Paul Kossoff (1950-1976) would have turned 72 this week.
Although the Free guitarist’s untimely death at the age of 25 was a great loss to the guitar world he remains one of the most influential ‘Burst slingers in music history.
Synonymous with the Les Paul Standard, Kossoff’s tone is a touchstone for many – including Guns N’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus who cites him as one of his biggest influences.
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A dream guitar for decades, the purchase of this Holy Grail of tone was funded by the guitarist’s gargantuan gear sale at Chicago Music Exchange that comprised over 200 items including amps, acoustic guitars and electric guitars.
“My initial goal was to buy a ‘Burst, but I figured I’d get a refin or a headstock repair – something more affordable,” Fortus told Guitar Player.
“I went through everything and sold anything that I didn’t use. It was an interesting process. I’d amassed this collection over the years because I never sold anything; I only bought stuff.”
A discerning musician with an ear for great tone, the GnR guitar twin carefully set about finding the perfect ‘Burst. It was, however, as if the guitar found him instead.
“As soon as I played it, I knew it was the one,” he recalls. “I played eight different ‘Bursts that were up for sale and when I plugged this one in, I was like, ‘Fuck. This is definitely the one.’
"They vary. Wildly. But I knew straight away. It's absolutely perfect."
At that point, Fortus was certain he had found exactly what he was looking for and became the second custodian of a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard.
“It’s had one previous owner who owned it from new,” he tells us. “It's in great shape. It’s definitely been played but it’s been really well taken care of. It's completely faded but there's no scratches or anything.”
Right now, Fortus is out on the road with Gun N’ Roses, although his beloved ‘Burst won’t be making an appearance on stage any time soon. Like Slash, he intends on keeping it safely locked up at home in the vault.
“I use it all the time in the studio to record with,” he enthuses, “and I've played live with it once. But I'm not going to be taking it on out with Guns.
“Slash takes his Derrig on tour, but he doesn’t take his old ones out either.”
Browse the Guns N' Roses catalog here.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.